Are cruise ships prepared for the threat of terrorism?
As I have contended for a long time, in my opinion no.
Cruise lines are still calling on dangerous ports. They are still sending passengers on unescorted shore excursions in buses without armed security personnel. Cruise ships can't prevent terrorists from overpowering their unarmed security guards on most cruise ships and running up the gangways. (Some European cruise lines, like Costa, have weapons).
Few lines are conducting anti-terrorist drills. The rare anti-terrorism training drill conducted by local and federal agencies are not even conducted on cruise ships. Few lines have installed automatic man overboard alarms which have the capability to also detect when unauthorized people come over the rails onto the ship. And what can a cruise line do once terrorists gets onto the ship? Security guards are barely able to even break up bar fights.
I received an interesting comment the other day from a reader who said that cruise ships should use muster drills to educate passengers what do to if there is a terrorist attack during a cruise. What is the protocol for a passenger if terrorists enter the ship? Go to your cabins, hunker down and hope for the best? Try and overwhelm the attackers? Try and escape via lifeboats? Who knows?
Yesterday, a number of newspapers from the U.K. and France reported on a drill which involved a ferry from England to France where armed military personnel boarded the ferry via speedboats and a helicopter.
The Mirror explained that "fears have arisen over the threat of armed militants launching an attack on a ferry and executing passengers or detonating a suicide bomb."
These type of security drills are important. But they seem to underscore that few cruise ships are making an effort to conduct such exercises, seemingly to avoid frightening the guests.
I have reported many times about the warnings from senior military leaders in the U.S. and Europe regarding the threat against the cruise industry posed by ISIS. Just last month, the Miami-Dade County Police Department said: “We ended up concluding that now they’re targeting the cruise industry. We’re the cruise capital of the world. It’s the same possibility of having two planes crash into the World Trade Center.”
Several media sources in Europe are saying that armed sea marshals are planned for ferries, at least heading to and from France. It's time for U.S. based cruise lines to employ armed guards on their cruise ships.
Interested in this issue? Read: How the Next Jihadist Terror Attack Against Cruise Passengers Will Happen.
Video credit: Mirror; Photo Credit: YouTube/DFMagazine via the Mirror.